London: Some signs of old age such as stooped posture and restricted movement may be due to ‘hidden’ blood vessel damage in the brain, US scientists say.
A team of scientists at the Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, carried out autopsies on the brains of nuns and priests.
The brains were examined under a microscope for signs of damage, which would be invisible to normal brain scans.
They found 29 percent of patients with no previously detected sign of stroke had clotted or narrowed blood vessels.
When comparing the severity of damage with a score of Parkinson``s-like symptoms such as slow movement, rigidity, tremors and posture, the study said there was a link.
The researchers then concluded that damage, undetectable with current scanning techniques, “may contribute to the development of what is currently considered ‘normal’ age-related motor symptoms such as parkinsonian signs”.
However, it could not prove that the damage itself caused declining mobility, merely that there was a link between the two.
“This is very surprising,” the BBC quoted lead researcher Prof Aron Buchman as saying.
“Often the mild motor symptoms are considered an expected part of aging. We shouldn``t accept this as normal aging. We should try to fix it and understand it.
“If there is an underlying cause, we can intervene and perhaps lessen the impact,” he added.
The study has been published in the journal Stroke.